After a run of lean seasons, the New England area of New South Wales has had two consecutive years of good rain. The LP Dutton trout hatchery at Ebor has been near flooded twice in the last twelve months.
Regular rainfall has kept the New England streams topped up with the fish getting back into the feeding habit. This has resulted in some very well conditioned rainbows around at the closure of the 06/07 season.
Plenty of rain through winter has seen the fish able to spawn and commence feeding again from August onwards. We can look forward to some great angling from the weekend of 29 and 30 September when the season opens this year.
Around six hours drive south of Brisbane, Ebor is the hub of the New England fishery that stretchs north, south and west of Ebor for some distance. These trout streams are not secret places and many maps produced by NSW fisheries list trout streams on a locality basis. A visit to the Fishery web site will fill in any knowledge gaps regarding streams and applicable rules, and you can also obtain a fishing license online.
For those who have not visited Ebor in pursuit of trout it's wise to dress for the prevailing cool conditions. This area is over 1200m above sea level and frosts are part of the regime in spring. Warm clothing and a good quality sleeping bag are required at night. If you are camping, make sure you bring a long sleeved shirt, long trousers, hat and sensible shoes – better still, a pair of Hornes thigh waders are perfect for day-use on the streams.
As most trout streams are on private property a polite request for permission to fish is necessary. Locate a residence handy to a bit of water that catches the eye and simply approach the owner. To commence fishing without asking first can create friction and an introduction and request to fish is seldom denied unless there is good reason.
A 5/6wt fly rod with matching floating line is the one for New England trout. In really small waters one may like to use a 4wt but when it's windy it will be harder to cast. A 5wt outfit is really useful, the fly line will buck the wind and yet the smallest flies can still be dropped very gently onto the water without alarming the fish.
With trout, quality tackle always pays dividends. There are many fly fishing situations where one can use bargain priced tackle and still do well but for trout in small water a premium rod will make fishing so much easier and enjoyable.
Around two years ago I was offered a G.Loomis Stream Dance Metolius 5wt rod for review. The 4 piece rod was so light in the hand, so gentle to cast, yet had such reserves of power when it came to long casts or extracting fish from reeds and fallen branches that I bought it. It's since been my best weapon.
This season I will be setting the rod up with a new Snowbee XS-DPF Delicate Presentation fly line. These lines are available from 2/6wt and are slick, easy to cast, and being an olive colour won't alarm fish – a vital foray for my trip to New Zealand in summer.
It is important to remember that trout are wary suspicious fish. The more gently the fly is presented the better. A sloppy splashy presentation will see a fish high tailing it for safety, even if it's metres from where the fly crashed down. Fine and far off is the way for trout.
Trout in small streams don't require expensive reels; as long as the reel has a reasonable drag it will be fine. To dupe the fish a leader of around a rod's length, longer if one can comfortably cast it, is required. Store bought leaders are fine. Take along some leader tippet material to replace the tapered section as becomes shorter from tying on flies. Breaking strain of 2.5kg is fine and you could go a bit lighter if you have the confidence.
One of the attractions of trout angling is the sight fishing aspect.
Offer a floating fly to a feeding fish or to an area where an unseen fish might well be laying in wait – like a shaded corner, back water or side area of a bubble trail. The take will see the fly disappearing into a little ring and the leader drawing tight – very satisfying indeed. Lift the rod quickly but without too much impact and a fish will be in play.Warming weather should see plenty of mayflies hatching, beetles falling into the water plus other insects on the menu. Big brown caddies are also about so the fish will have plenty to choose from. Rather than carry a box full of flies, one for every foreseeable occasion. The angler can simply select a few good all rounders that would include these dry flies for New England waters.
The Humpy, Red Tag, Black Spinner, Iron Blue Dun and Greenwells Glory all have great potential. Look at what seems to be prevalent on the water, colour wise, and offer a fly similar to those natural insects. The size of fly is important with size 12, 14, and 16 ideal. If a fish refuses a fly, then step back and give him a break. When you try again, use a smaller size and it usually works.
Many times around change of light, always prime trout time, the fish will be simply bulging the water surface with a bit of back fin showing. This means they are feeding on nymphs.
Dry flies won't interest nymphing fish so a black or dark brown seal's or possum fur nymph, size 14 or 16, gently placed in the path of a moving fish should see the leader tighten and a fish pulling hard. To make sure the nymph does not sink too deep, grease the leader with Mucilin or Gink so it will float. Dry fly fishing also requires a greased leader.
Last but not least are wet flies. These are used when nothing is doing at all, surface wise, and the wet fly is simply cast upstream and retrieved back quicker than current speed. The ubiquitous Woolly Bugger is a useful wet fly as is the black or black and red Matuka – both flies in size 8 being about right.
The entire New England plateau will be picture perfect in verdant green and trees bursting with new foliage this spring and early summer, thanks to the exceptional season, and fishing is just part of being there.
Don't forget the fishing license.Reads: 1327